House GOP budget amendment plan differs from Senate proposal

House Republicans late Monday night indicated plans to take up a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution that differs in several key respects from a Senate proposal offered last month. In one key difference, it would be slightly easier under the House version to override the amendment's requirement that total federal outlays cannot exceed total receipts.

House Republicans on Monday indicated they would consider H.J.Res. 1, a proposal introduced earlier in the year. This balanced-budget amendment proposal would fit in with the House GOP debt-ceiling plan, which foresees a congressional vote on a balanced-budget amendment sometime in the fourth calendar quarter of this year.

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Like the Senate's language introduced in late June, S.J.Res. 23, the House amendment would prohibit outlays from exceeding receipts without approval from the House and Senate. But in the new House proposal, a three-fifths majority vote would be needed in both chambers, slightly easier than the two-thirds vote in the Senate version.

On other issues, the bills are identical. Both the House and Senate GOP proposals cap federal spending at 18 percent of U.S. gross domestic product and require a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate to override this cap. Increasing the debt limit requires a three-fifths vote in both chambers under both bills.

But the bills differ on how these limits can be overridden during a time of military conflict. In the Senate bill, for example, Congress could waive these limits when a declaration of war is in effect and if a majority of House and Senate members approve additional spending. Under the House proposal, this allowance is eliminated.

However, both proposals set out the same rules for overriding spending limits during a time of military conflict that is not formally declared as war. In both bills, the limits can be exceeded when the U.S. is engaged in "military conflict which causes an imminent and serious military threat to national security," when a joint resolution is adopted by three-fifths of each chamber.